We arrived on the Friday and went into the Forest Retreat to check in and pick up a meal for the night, the staff were great and really friendly. They stocked a good range of local produce as well as ready meals from "Cook" which were perfect for a lazy late night supper. I also love that they sold dishwasher tablets individually rather than a huge pack which was a thoughtful touch!
The cabin was beautiful and very well stocked, we had a barbeque on the second night and they had a complete BBQ tool kit in the kitchen as standard. The hot tub was a real treat and was very well used over the weekend to watch the sun set over the trees and bubble away any tension we had left after days of relaxing and exploring the forest and local area.
As we were very close the the Basingstoke Canal we went up there the next morning with our SUPs and paddled from the Water Witch pub in Odium along the disused section of the canal to Odium Castle - a route from our Pub Paddles book. There is a freshwater spring along this end so the water got clearer as we paddled along to the castle and finished like a lake with beautiful weeds under the boards and lots of fish swimming around - simply beautiful. We were escorted by dragonfly and butterflies all the way along the canal. The castle is small but pretty and didn't take long to explore. We then paddled back for a pub lunch at the Water Witch, a very pretty and easy paddle of 2 - 3 hours. The only downside is the weeds get caught in the boards fins so you have to keep clearing them. On the way home we stopped at Newlyn's Farm shop to stock up for a BBQ dinner - well worth a visit as an amazing range of fresh produce.
Back at Blackwood Forest we hired mountain bikes for the next day and after a brief yoga practice on the deck and the woodland behind out cabin we settled back into the hot tub for another night.
The next morning was cool and perfect for a bit more yoga on the deck. After a breakfast of freshly baked croissants for the Forest Retreat we set off around the marked bike trail. My husband is more adventurous than I am and was very patient waiting for me to catch up as he flew around the trail. It was a nice way to spend the morning as the trail wasn't too long or difficult (except when we left it to go exploring!) and riding in the forest meant that we were shaded from the heat of the sun.
After another al fresco lunch on the deck of our cabin we set off on the walking trial around the site which again was nicely timed and suitable for children as well. The route was marked clearly and had points of interest to highlight differnet types of tree and animals in the area. For the more fitness minded there is a forest trim trail with outdoor gym equipemnt to spice things up as you run around it.
Forest Holdiays have struck a good balance with Blackwood Forest, it is well set up to encourge people to get outdoors and explore the forest without making the experience too extreme or exhausting, you can choose to do more or less depending on what you want from the holiday. There are lots of childrens activities which they run and you can indulge in some luxury extras for the cabin too.
After a sad final hot tub we had to pack up and head home. I am in love and will definately be returning to Forest holidays, they have sites all over the UK and we are thinking a lochside lodge in Scotland for our next time so we can explore the Scottish Lochs on our SUPs.
Until then I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that my life no longer has a hot tub in it! For more info the website is below: